#97 – Lowblows to Your Wallet: Food in Canada

English Canada has a food problem, and it took me about five seconds to find out why.

Loblaws is the largest food retailing company in Canada. It is also owned and controlled…by the Weston family. Yes – yet again, English Canada’s fine tradition of shitty businesses run by shitty Canadian family wealth is upheld. Garfield Weston, the undoubtedly Christ-like figure who gave his name to the family’s charity organization is dead, but his political shenanigans live on in the form of Galen Weston’s million-dollar-a-year donations to the Fraser Institute, which is of course a right-wing think-tank. Funding the fellation of the free market while your business operates in a virtual duopoly is not hypocritical in the slightest!

Only the two largest food retailers in Canada operate state-wide; Metro, the Quebecois company and third-largest food retailer, largely runs in Ontario and Quebec. Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro controlled nearly 70% of the food retail market in Canada in 2011, and with Lowblow’s recently claiming Shopper’s Drug Mart and Sobey’s parent company Empire consuming Canada’s Safeways that number is only slated to increase. As the formless box-stores that so define North American grocery shopping are built to be as inconvenient as possible for carless consumers, these huge blobs enforce an ugly, car-centric skyline in Canadian suburbs.

But that isn’t the worst part of the deal. Having a Canadian family business and a holding company competing to provide you with frozen, heat-and-serve garbage is not merely a problem of marring the already-ruined visages suburban abominations of English Canada. It’s a problem of pricing. Fruits and vegetables are slated to be tremendously more expensive this year than last; 20% of the bacon (125mg) has been taken out of Lowblow’s bacon packages. Meat is expecting a 5% increase in costs (as opposed to the double-digit increases of last year); meanwhile, Loblaws took in $13.6 billion in revenue.

Although much has to be said for the deranged systems of price-fixing that Canada uses for products like dairy, eggs, and meats, the fact that so much of our food is supplied by oligarchs and the price of it keeps outpacing inflation is a problem. This is in Canada’s South, too – prices in the North are insane and Canada’s response is a shrug. Meanwhile, Canadians shell out more money for poorer products produced by massive and uncaring conglomerates. Small wonder that English Canadian food culture is so weak when food sales are filtered through the useless hands of both Canadian businessfolks and the Canadian government.

Meanwhile, European cities enjoy divine food, American cities enjoy food trucks, and Asian cities continue on with their centuries-old food traditions. But shitty food is awesome because it powers Canadian contract hockeymans. And really, is there anything more nourishing than that?

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